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Supervisor Mistake Leaves me with No PhD After 4 years

Quote From Dunham:
Really sorry to read that. I can't imagine how that must feel.

The question is if a new PhD will help. I can't really imagine that you have any chance to get tenure or any research position at a university with a history that includes almost 5 years of failed PhD without any publications. Depending on the field you are working in, it might be better to look for job opportunities outside of academia instead of investing another 4 years in a PhD. Anyway, hats off for considering that after such a frustrating PhD experience.

I think you are right that there is not much you could do. In the end it is your responsibility that the material produced is definitely the one you thought, even though I can understand that one does not double check it after the supervisor's approval. Things like that happen in biology too, were people sometimes receive mutant lines from other renowned labs and in the end it turns out it was something completely different....always your responsibility to confirm the line...some learn it the hard way

How did your supervisor reacted? Does not cast positive light on him....

Quite an unhelpful and demotivating response. Don't encourage someone to just call it quits and adopt a defeatist line of thinking. I hope most people aren't like you and spreading negativity.

The ethics of the supervisor are what's wrong, and there are power dynamics at play. It is not that straightforward to challenge someone more established academically.

To the thread starter: not all is lost yet. I cannot advise as I am not familiar with science Phds, but please keep fighting as it feels like you've been misled and manipulated.

I feel like I have wasted 2 years of my phd!

Hello all,

I have been thinking about my progress so far and I have to say that I have achieved only 2, 2.5 chapters in 2 years of Phd in a social science. The empirical work has not even started! :(
Maybe I am not cut for this? :(

i'm failing

so, my supervisor has no confidence in my research design and was not pleased at all with my last research statement. It does not make sense apparently. I am progressing into my penultimate year and I have lost all hope.
I feel like such a loser. Such a wasteman. Such an idiot.

conferences are too expensive!

Hello all,

I would like to know how important it is to go to conferences, especially as they are extremely expensive, especially the good ones in my field (registration fee + travel overseas + accommodation + personal allowance for a few days). I simply cannot afford attending them :(

So my idea is to only attend conferences if I can afford them (funding is not always available), even if they are not bigs ones in my field. I have so far not gotten anything useful out of the ones I have attended, yet I am always encouraged to attend them.

I am thinking of simply submitting findings from my research to journals after asking some academics in my department to read them.

Why are conferences so expensive? I am going to miss a few good international conferences because of financial issues, and thus, I won't be able to network as much.

What are your thoughts on my suggested steps?

Many thanks

fear and writing

Hello all,

I really need some kind words here, as I am writing a paper that I would like to submit at a journal, but I always imagine the reviewers making a funny face and seeing so many wrong things with my paper. I CANNOT PROGRESS. Each time I want to write, I tell myself 'what is the point? It's rubbish'. I have so little confidence in my methods, but if someone asked me to improve, I would not know how. I have been to conferences, but got no feedback. Perhaps my paper was not that interesting.
How can I overcome this feeling that I am being too ambitious and how can I stop imagining the reactions of potential reviewers/editors? It might seem like a benign thing, but I face writer's block as a result of this. I procrastinate because of this as well. I just want to cry.

starting data collection in 3rd year

Quote From wowzers:
Depends on the regulations of when you need to submit a finished thesis by. Has your project gone through ethical approval or are you still writing up for ethics what the project will be? You need to make some decisions fairly quickly on what your theory/model is.

I've chosen this as I've just watched a news report on it about 5 mins ago (not my area just an example)

E.g. say the problem is the under recruitment of Engineers in the UK. You could look at it numerous ways
Policy - Why is this happening, what policies are there to recruit Engineers.
Theory Marxism, Foucault, Cultural Historical Activity Theory etc, what theory has been applied previously that might be useful to this problem.
Methodology, If large scale interviews and quantitative data is usually applied in similar studies what might alternative approaches offer e.g. case studies of an Engineering employer or semiotic analysis of visual cultural representations of Engineers in the media.

So you see what you need to do is make a decision NOW, what is your gap, what new knowledge are you going to offer. It is usually easier to use existing theory/method and find away it will be novel by either (a) apply an existing theory/model to a new problem you identified (You then can just take their model so don't need to formulate your own) or employ a theory/method not usually applied to the problem.

Good luck.

Thank you for your reply.
I won't be relying on participants for my data collection. My research will be about textual data [i.e. media sources, government documents etc].... The only worry I have is not being able to find a lot of textual data [so I will have to be creative].
I have a theoretical model, but I need to rework an existing theory and think of my hypotheses, so that I can go collect the right type of textual information.I am basically trying to see if my reworked model will work

starting data collection in 3rd year

Hi everyone!

At this rate, I believe I will only be able to start my data collection in the summer, 2 months before my 3rd year. I am in the social sciences, and was wondering how bad this would be? I am planning on doing all my data collection in year 3, analysing my data and editing in year 4. There is NO WAY I can do any data collection before the summer (it is taking me a long time to formulate my theories/models to guide the kind of data I will be gathering)

Am I screwed?

4 years?


I would like to know if it is standard practice to finish a full time phd in 4 years in the social sciences? Also, what is meant by 4 years? Say sept 2012 to sept 2016 or slightly before?



Thank you for your reply!

I meant the intellectual contribution. I fail to see what is so original about my research :(



I would like to hear from people about what to do when you no longer see the importance of your research?

I am facing a difficult time at the moment. I'm halfway into my phd and have not started collecting my data yet either!

Nothing is going according to plan and I feel miserable!

So much stress

Hello all,

I am undergoing so much stress over a paper I will be presenting at a major conference. I will be able to finish on time before the conference, but probably not have the chance to get my supervisor look at it beforehand. I need input as I will be using a model I am not familiar with (I have limited knowledge of it), and I do not want to go there and embarrass myself!

Oh dear! Too stressed to finish the paper!

writing for publication

Hello all,

My supervisor encouraged to try to publish a paper on a topic I previously worked on, however, I cannot get myself to write it! No sentence seems good enough, and I end up staring at a blank screen.

I am already seeing the 'rejection' decision by reviewers, and this is blocking me from getting any work done.

I know this is a symptom of little confidence. I tried dealing with it, but I keep procrastinating.

feeling down

Hello all,

I am feeling terribly down because my work is progressing at such a slow pace! I feel like I may need a whole decade to do this research! :(

I know this is a sign that my research is too broad, but I don't know what to do!

Finished PhD but still unemployed

Quote From badhaircut:

Firstly, I think you ought to stop disrespecting cleaners, shop assistants and the sort of people that do a lot to contribute to the way the world works. Your life, mine and everyone else here would be a lot worse without their efforts. Even with my PhD, I personally, would rather have the quiet dignity of cleaning and paying my own way rather than having a massive sense of entitlement that puts me above such peons and living off welfare.


I am a phd and a shop assistant. It's not shameful to be doing something legal that brings you money.

How can I protect my idea?

I think my supervisor may have 'borrowed' my idea. Same hypothesis (relationship between two particular variables) being investigated, but in a different area. This supervisor is also very helpful, so I have no idea how to tackle this. Plus, we're talking about an idea, so plagiarism cannot be proved.